Sexual infections: beyond penetration
When we talk about sex, everything tends to revolve around the penis. If there is an erect penis, then there penetration, and if there is a penetration, then there we count with intercourse, most people seems to think. There are even some beliefs that if penetration is not between a penis and a vagina, then it doesn’t count as sex.
But the reality is that sexual activity goes far beyond penetration, and consequently, there are other practices besides intercourse for which you could acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI). So pay attention and take the necessary precautions so as not to put your health at risk.
Information is power
The most important thing is that you have truthful and scientific information about STI so that you can protect yourself from them correctly. Myths and prejudices do nothing but putting obstacles to safety and health, so it is necessary to break them down.
First, keep in mind that STIs are not only found inside the holes in your body, that is, deep in the vagina, anus, or mouth. The microorganisms that cause these infections may also be present on the skin or in body fluids. Thus, some infections can pass from one person to another one through these routes.
In clearer words, this means that if there is friction between the penis and the vaginal lips, and even more so, if there is vaginal lubrication or pre-ejaculatory fluid in that friction, this could lead to transmission.
But do not panic, not all STI can be transmitted within this way, so each case must be analyzed in particular.
For example, the human papilloma virus (HPV) is a non-systemic virus, that is, when it reaches the body it does not spread throughout the body, but rather stays in the place where it was received. That is why, if it is lodged outside the anus, it can pass from there to the penis, fingers or mouth if they get contact with that area of the body.
On the other hand, syphilis is a systemic infection, where the bacterium called Treponema pallidum affects different organs as it progresses through the body. Its consequences can range from anemia and yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes (jaundice) to meningitis, that is, the inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain, thereby causing blindness, seizures or psychomotor retardation.
Looks are deceiving
The various STI may or may not cause skin lesions, and these may have a different duration in each case. In addition, some lesions are more “conspicuous” than others and in some cases they even disappear on their own, without treatment, which can give the false idea that the health problem has disappeared.
Indeed, you can be about to have a sexual relationship with someone who has the genital herpes virus, but who does not present any lesions at that time. In this case, any contact between the skin, the mucous membranes, the mouth or the hands can transmit herpes.
In other cases, such as gonorrhea, the bacteria that causes it can be lodged in the mucous membranes, such as the vagina or urethra, and spend days or months without producing any symptoms. When it does occur, the most visible sign of this STI is a thick, cloudy, or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina.
All these possible warning signs aside, let’s face it: would you really examine your partner’s genitals for any infection? It is unlikely, and even less so if we are talking about practices that we do not necessarily consider sex, such as mutual masturbation, rubbing of genitals or oral sex itself.
Remember that to minimize the risks of acquiring an STI (including HIV), let’s use a condom from beginning to end in your sexual relationship. You can even use one cut lengthwise to make a barrier that covers the area where you plan to perform oral sex or manually stimulate her.
On the other hand, if you have already had unprotected sex and want to get a free HIV test, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we do it. Locate our nearest office in your country or write to us by Whatsapp.